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How to Setup Your Productive Home Workspace

by Dewi Safitri

Working from home has become the new status quo in the last 2 years. With that, millions of people have had no choice but to reconstruct their homes into offices, creating various types of workspaces. In this chance, we’re gonna talk about how to effectively set up and revamp your workspace so that you feel inspired, productive, and rested as much as possible. In most cases, when we talk about home workspace, we usually discuss desk setups. If you are lucky to have a dedicated room/office or studio, that’s even better. 

The principals are pretty much the same. So let’s start with the position of your desk. As outdoor creatures, we feel happier and more inspired when we are outside. Taking that into consideration, a good practice is to try and position your desk near a good, natural light source. Sunlight, outside life, and greenery help boost serotonin, boosting morale and creativity. Always face the light and don’t let the light hit you from behind since this will result in reflections, reduced monitor visibility, eye strain, and poor posture as a result. If possible, try not to glue your workstation to a wall unless you have a nice window in front or above. 

I’ve done this more than once, and it has always made me feel more closed up and miserable. A friend of mine, Michael, who has an insanely beautiful home setup and social media presence, recently rearranged his office, moving away from the wall, putting his desk in the middle of the room, giving the whole vibe more negative space and room to breathe facing the light and windows as we just discussed. 

Giving your desk frontal space gives your eyes some rest, too, because you won’t be stuck at the same arm-length focal length when you have a wall in front, but rather glance and rest your eyes at a distance. When it comes to ergonomics, there are a few simple rules you can follow. First, the chair. Remember that the chair should be adjusted according to your mouse and keyboard and not to yourself and not to your desired posture, foot length, or style. The mouse and keyboard are the items that are in fixed positions, so you should accommodate your chair’s height and position to them. Raise or lower your chair to a place where your arms are close to a 90 degrees position.  

If your feet are up in the air, use some sort of footrest. Avoid sitting too high to avoid wrist-twisting and not too low to put the weight on your hands or your forearms. Don’t sit straight. This might sound like something that you might read in a book, but sitting completely straight is a recipe for fatigue and slouching. Instead, try and lock your chair to the first or second leaning position to give your body a good resting posture and less arch on your neck. Arching your neck leads to headaches, and it is the same reason to avoid the recliner style of sitting. If you have non-adjustable chair armrests that don’t fit the ergonomic practices, try and remove your armrests

Removing them might turn out to be a more comfortable sitting position too. A chair with a suitable headrest is better than one with bad armrests. Let’s talk about the monitor! Get at least a 27-inch or preferably a 32-inch monitor. Anything below 27 inches will give your eyes unnecessarily strain, and while on the topic of that, try to use a 4k monitor with a proper scaling setup. Remember, your smartphone most likely has a better screen than your monitor, so why cut corners on something that you look at over 150 hours a month? Raise your monitor so that your eyesight is horizontal to the top portion of your monitor. 

If you can’t raise your monitor enough, use books or something else to lift it. A monitor arm will be a great alternative, too, since it will free up even more space on your tabletop. If you think you need two monitors, consider a curved ultrawide for that purpose. Dual monitor setups are hard to focus on and serve the same purpose. Still, they are a more significant investment with the expense of having ugly bezels in the middle. Your peripherals, mouse, and keyboard should be exactly where your hands naturally rest on the desk. In many cases, you might find compact keyboards more comfortable unless you deal with a lot of numbers. The idea is not to push your mouse too far to the right or the left if you are a lefty. Someone once said that you shouldn’t have to reach your hands to grab your tools.

Let’s talk about isolation! Clearing the noise is what makes you a productivity machine. If you can’t afford to work from a separate room at home,  create your workspace and desk set up as a purposeful corner or segment of your shared space. It should be something that is distinguished from the home setup and is used just for work purposes. If necessary, consider a folding layout where you put everything away at the end of the day. The actual desk should be around 30 percent larger than your monitor – that’s my observation. Of course, suppose you work with many documents and paper. In that case, you might prefer to have a more oversized tabletop to have space to spread everything around. 

Choose size based on monitor and type of work. Also, choose a  tabletop that will fit your taste since this will be something that you will look at for hours. You might think it’s not essential, but inspiration comes from your surroundings, and you wouldn’t want to be surrounded by an ugly tarpaulin or a messed-up tabletop. Mechanical keyboards are hot right now, but they usually require a palm rest. If you need a good keyboard, but don’t care about the type, a good choice would be to go for a low-profile keyboard to avoid fatigue or pressure on the wrists.

Your pointing device could be a mouse or trackpad, or both, like me. Choose your pointing device based on your workflow and if necessary, go for a mouse palm rest. Unless you are really into precision peripherals, go for wireless options with built-in batteries that can be charged with USB-C. You wouldn’t want to have to deal with charging batteries. Remember to take a break while you work. Work in segments of like 50 minutes. Choose a priority task, set a timer, and start working on that task and only that task until the timer goes off. While you do that – No distraction – No social media – No answering the phone. Stop working and take a break when you hear the timer. 

The second priority to the workspace after the monitor is the headphone! If you plan to work from a shared space, the headphones are your way of spacing out and focusing, they are very important. When you choose your headphones, think of the following: They should be on-ear or over-ear headphones. You’ll be using them for hours, so they need to be able to have a good seal and, most of all, fit comfortably on your head. There shouldn’t be any ear pressure or discomfort on the top of your head either. Buds, are not a healthy choice, having them stuck in your ears for hours. 

So, go for a noise-canceling option, especially if you have kids or share the room with someone else. If you want to space out, try noise-canceling in combination with white noise and I guarantee you’ll forget what’s going on around you. Although the sound is essential, working from home most likely results in virtual meetings. All your meetings should be done via headphones because you don’t want to be the one that echoes and reverbs  during a meeting with 20 other colleagues. If the budget allows it, get the headphones with the best possible microphone because sounding confident and not repeating yourself can take you places. Workspace speakers are optional for any setup and are good for when you have a dedicated room to work in. They are not recommended for meetings or for doing precision audio from home, but if you can have a pair or a system, that’s great.

If possible, invest in a good web camera or even a real camera setup if you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. With that, try and get a decent separate microphone that can make you sound good. Both the camera and the mic are your window to your college, your career, and business development, so looking and sounding as good as possible is not something to take lightly.

So to make everything look like a catalog or turn your workspace into an inspiration place, you have to organize and cable manage as much as possible. Even if you don’t feel like it, it pays off once you do it. Run everything to the back of the desk and maybe get some railways and other cable organizers that you can use. Adhesive Velcro tape is your best friend, and you can use that to mount all power adapters and outlets behind or on the bottom of the tabletop. Be sure to keep everything as flat as possible and pushed as further back as possible since you don’t want to feel knee discomfort when you sit. Remember, raise whatever your can, like putting your monitor on a monitor arm or attaching things underneath to have a clean tabletop.

Nice accessories that you can place are, of course, plants, preferably real, and accessories like a wireless charger or a charging hub that you can use quickly when necessary to top up your devices. A good reading light or a monitor light might also be a good idea when it gets dark and especially in the winter. If you have more tips, feel free to share them in the comment section down below!

Source: How to Setup Your Productive Home Workspace 2021

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